Sunday, April 11, 2021

Second woman accuses Cuomo of harassment

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo arrives at a Covid-19 vaccination site in Brooklyn.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office announced minutes after the story appeared that it was launching an “independent review” into the matter. | Hans Pennink/AP Photo

ALBANY, N.Y. — A second former staffer has accused New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment.

Charlotte Bennett, who began working for the state last March, told The New York Times that the governor had repeatedly asked her intimate personal questions, which felt like “something out of a horror movie.” They included questions about her romantic life and whether Bennett, 25, “had ever been with an older man.”

Bennett said Cuomo never touched her. But, she told the Times, “I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared. And was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job.”

Earlier this week, another former Cuomo staffer, Lindsey Boylan, detailed allegations of harassment from Cuomo. Among other things, Boylan said Cuomo kissed her on the lips and asked her to play strip poker during a plane ride.

Cuomo’s office announced minutes after the story appeared that it was launching an “independent review” into the matter.

Former federal Judge Barbara Jones will conduct the review, according to Cuomo counsel Beth Garvey.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who is first in line of succession, issued a statement on Saturday night, saying: “Everyone deserves to have their voice heard and taken seriously. I support an independent review.”

Cuomo did not explicitly deny the specific claims Bennett made.

“When she came to me and opened up about being a sexual assault survivor and how it shaped her and her ongoing efforts to create an organization that empowered her voice to help other survivors, I tried to be supportive and helpful,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Ms. Bennett’s initial impression was right: I was trying to be a mentor to her. I never made advances toward Ms. Bennett nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate. The last thing I would ever have wanted was to make her feel any of the things that are being reported.

“This situation cannot and should not be resolved in the press; I believe the best way to get to the truth is through a full and thorough outside review and I am directing all state employees to comply with that effort. I ask all New Yorkers to await the findings of the review so that they know the facts before making any judgments. I will have no further comment until the review has concluded.”

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